It is the constitutional duty of federal government to provide maximum security and to also ensure the protection of lives and properties of the people they govern. Any (central) government that fails to provide security can be regarded as a failed government and it is a way leading to a state of nature or stateless society. Based on 1999 constitution, the provision of security is under the exclusive list. That is to say it is only the federal government that is charged with the responsibility of providing security. The governors are the chief security officers of their respective states.
Nigeria is a large country with a huge population of more than one 180 million. That is why some people are of the view that the states should be allowed to have their own police, because according to these agitators, the work is too much for the federal government to handle it alone. Of course, it is a huge responsibility.
But can our governors handle it objectively and effectively, free from political intervention? Why will governors quickly agree with the idea but always reject the autonomy for local governments? Are State Independent Electoral Commissions free of political influences?
These are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves before we agree with the idea of establishing state police in Nigeria.
Governors are constitutionally allowed to have their own electoral bodies charged with the responsibility of conducting local government elections in their respective states, but what we are seeing today in Nigeria since from 1999 is that these state electoral bodies are not transparent and they are being manipulated by governors where a ruling party of a state wins all the local government elections. Already, some people are of the view that this constitutional duty of state electoral bodies be transferred to INEC.
Now, with these well known facts, why is it that some people are agitating for state police?
Don’t they think that it will also be manipulated by governors to persecute and punish their political rivals? Do the states have the financial strength to maintain state police?
The solution to the security problem is for the federal government to continue with this present arrangement of maintaining the entire security agencies. But the police should be upgraded to meet the global standards and more police officers recruited considering our population. Modern and sophisticated weapons should be provided for them, their salary and welfare improved.
If states are allowed to have their own police, the security situation will be compounded, with corruption further institutionalised in the event that the governors are unable to effectively fund them.
The governors will definitely use them to deal with political opponents and this will make them demigods which is not good for our democracy. Not only that, the ethno-religious conflicts will escalate leading to the further polarisation of the country.
Hasheem B Ahmad,